Tarlac City, March 11, 2003 -- The mainstream Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has admitted that guerilla fighters of its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), have killed 21 government troopers, including a police colonel, in a series of "tactical offensives" launched last month. This disclosure was made through the CPP's underground publication, Ang Bayan, which the central leadership of the Maoist rebel movement also said will now be released fortnightly starting this month.

The CPP said the NPA's Melito Glor Command in Southern Tagalog killed on Valentine's Day Senior Superintendent Eriberto Paglinawan, police chief of Cabuyao, Laguna, because of his involvement in spy missions and other forms of government operations against the rebel movement. Rebels who ambushed the police officer in Barangay Lumil in Silang, Cavite were able to take the victim's M-14 rifle and cal. 45 service pistol, the CPP said.

On Feb. 24, the communists said, guerillas of the NPA's Jose Percival Estocada Command-Central Front in Capiz killed six elements of the Army's Task Force Panay-Special Operations Team and a member of the Citizens' Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) when they were waylaid in Barangay Daan Sur in TaPaz town. The rebels further "confiscated" from the slain government troopers an M-16 rifle, an M203 grenade launcher, an M-14 assault rifle and a two-way radio. The CPP admitted that the NPA guerilla who led the ambush, Ismael "Ka Bob" Greganto, was "martyred" during the gunfight.

Last month's biggest rebel offensive was launched by the NPA's Josefino Corpuz Command in Central Luzon, said the Maoist party, where 10 soldiers of the Army's 24th Infantry Battalion were killed in Botolan, Zambales in a firefight that lasted for hours. Also, on Feb. 14, NPA rebels in Sorsogon killed three policemen when they assaulted a police detachment in Gubat town, where the insurgents were also able to take away an M-16 rifle.

In Agusan del Sur, NPA guerillas disarmed elements of the Army's 36th Infantry Battalion stationed in barangay Zamora, Talacogon on Feb. 16. The CPP said that the soldiers have not put up a fight with the communists, and instead "peacefully surrendered" to the NPA seven M-14 rifles, two M-16 rifles, a Garand rifle, assorted bullets and fatigue uniforms.

Authorities expect the rebels to stage more attacks this month, as the country's mainstream communist movement will be celebrating on March 29 the NPA's 34th founding anniversary. (By Benjie Villa, Star)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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